February 18, 2011
Contact:
Emerson Brown, NPR


   

WOMEN ON THE FRONTLINES: FEBRUARY 21-25 ON NPR'S 'MORNING EDITION'

RACHEL MARTIN EXAMINES DANGERS FEMALE SOLDIERS FACE,
DESPITE BAN ON WOMEN IN COMBAT

A Pentagon policy officially bans women from direct ground combat, but the reality of modern warfare inadvertently puts female troops on the front lines. In a five-part series beginning Monday, February 21, on NPR News' Morning Edition, National Security Correspondent Rachel Martin explores this contradiction and how women's roles in the military have changed over time.

"Women on the Frontlines" runs through Friday, February 25 on Morning Edition and at NPR.org. On Saturday, February 26 on Weekend Edition, Martin will discuss the series with host Scott Simon, and answer questions submitted by listeners (post your question on the NPR Facebook page). In addition to the on-air reports, NPR.org will feature photographic portraits of the individuals profiled, a historic timeline of women in combat and an archive of all the stories in the series. For local stations and broadcast times, visit www.npr.org/stations

According to the Army, more than 630 female soldiers have been wounded in action in the current wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and more than 100 have been killed in action. Martin reports that even though they can't be assigned to direct combat units, the realities of war often place women in combat situations – and in high-risk jobs like medics and intelligence officers.

In "Women on the Frontlines," Martin profiles five troops whose stories illustrate what it means to be a woman in uniform today, and in many cases, the contradiction between the regulations and the reality of service. She speaks with Leigh Anne Hester, the only woman to receive the military's silver star for engaging in direct combat with the enemy, and retired Air Force Brigadier General Wilma L. Vaught, who shares the challenges and frustrations she faced on her way to becoming one of the first women to achieve the rank.

The series continues with the experiences of a mother and daughter, who talk about how much has changed for women in the Army over a single generation, and a look at whether the combat ban stalls women’s military careers. Heidi Brown, a female general, tells NPR that hers is an elite, but lonely, club.

"Women on the Frontlines" is available at NPR.org here: www.npr.org/series/133869535/women-in-combat For more coverage of the military, visit the Impact of War project and National Security pages at NPR.org.